Home Interior Design With a new prize and national pavilions, the Gwangju Biennale doubles its bid to become the Asian answer to the Venice Biennale

With a new prize and national pavilions, the Gwangju Biennale doubles its bid to become the Asian answer to the Venice Biennale

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This year’s Gwangju Biennale has yet to open to the public, but its organizers are already set to step up the event by doubling the section of its national pavilion in its next edition, hoping to seal its position. Asian response to the Venice Biennale.

Already this year, nine countries are presented with national pavilions at the South Korean exhibition, including Ukraine, China, France, Canada, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. .

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday April 5, ahead of Friday’s public opening of the 14th edition of the Gwangju BiennaleYang-Woo Park, chairman of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, revealed that fair organizers are looking to host 20 national pavilions for its 15th edition, which is expected to take place in September 2024.

The famous South Korean art exhibition will make the next exhibition coincide with the 30th anniversary of the creation of the biennale, launched in 1994.

Gwangju Biennale 2023

Charwei Tsai, A temple, a sanctuary, a mosque, a church series (2022). Gwangju Biennial 2023. Photo: Vivienne Chow.

Gwangju Biennial introduced the national pavilion section in 2018; at the time, there were only three participating countries, and had fallen to just two in 2021 (the original 2020 edition was postponed for a year due to the lockdowns). The show’s opening on Friday sees its largest national pavilion section yet, but it’s apparently just the start of a new era.

“It’s going to be the biggest next year,” Park said, speaking to the international press through an interpreter. The foundation has already started the first awareness campaign for the upcoming show, as not all countries know about the Gwangju event.

“We’re going to create a swimming pool,” Park added. “We will then send requests and try to contact embassies and consulates.”

Gwangju Biennale 2023

Gwangju Biennale 2023 Exhibition Hall. Photo: Vivienne Chow.

Gwangju has a long way to go if the aim is to catch up with Venice, which hosted 80 national flags Last year. The main reason for hosting more national pavilions in Korea in addition to the main exhibition, Park noted, was to have greater diversity. “We hope to see more artists and their works from different countries represented in their respective pavilions,” he said. “Art lovers visiting the show can appreciate different voices seen through the art, which can be interpreted differently from the main show.”

The 14th edition was curated by Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator of International Art at the Tate Modern in London, with the theme “soft and weak as water”. The phrase, borrowed from the ancient Chinese text Dao De Jing, dates to around 400 BC; the description of the unique qualities of water is a metaphor for the power of softness, which can be even more potent against hard surfaces as it penetrates and seeps through cracks to bring about transformation. Resistance, solidarity, coexistence and attention are the key words of the exhibition of 79 artists which extends over five places. Park noted that national pavilion exhibits held across the city also responded to the theme.

Gwangju Biennale 2023

Sopheap Pic, Dance (2022), on view at the 2023 Gwangju Biennale. Photo: Vivienne Chow.

Meanwhile, the Gwangju event will also award the top Park Seo Bo Art Prize this year to an artist participating in the biennale. The 91-year-old Dansaekhwa master who recently revealed that he was diagnosed with lung cancer, donated $1 million to the biennale. The sum is divided into 10 scholarships of $100,000 for the next 10 editions.

The prize, which aims to support young artists, is dubbed the Golden Dove Prize as the winner will receive a golden dove emblem in addition to the cash prize.

When asked if the prize’s name was inspired by the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion, Park noted that the dove is the bird that symbolizes the city of Gwangju, and that the biennale was created to honor the Gwangju Uprising of 1980, a traumatic but instrumental historical event that laid the foundation for South Korea’s transformation into a democracy. “Gwangju is a city of human rights, peace and democracy,” Park said.

The Gwangju Biennale opens on Friday April 7 and will run until July 9.

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